Winter Olympics: Plushenko, Lipnitskaia lead Russia to first Sochi gold
SOCHI, Russia - National idol Yevgeny Plushenko and rising star Julia Lipnitskaia got hosts Russia off the mark on Sunday by sealing gold in the inaugural team figure skating event at the Sochi Olympics.
It was the fourth Olympic medal for the 31-year-old Plushenko but his achievement was almost overshadowed by Lipnitskaia, who sealed gold at the age of just 15 to euphoria at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Watched by President Vladimir Putin, Russia took a precious gold on home soil even before the final round - the ice dance free dance.
Ice dancers Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov then stepped up and placed third behind Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa virtue and Scott Moir.
Putin later joined the skaters rinkside wearing the team colors.
The hosts won five of the eight sections over three days of competition to take gold with 75 points. Canada took silver with 65 with the United States bronze medallists with 60.
"I'm 31 years and this means everything to me. It's so much history," said 2006 Olympic champion and two-time silver medallist Plushenko.
He joins Swede Gillis Grafstroem as the only skater to win four figure skating medals - three in gold - between 1920 and 1932.
"To repeat the same results in new times is different. But I don't want to put him higher than Grafstroem," said Plushenko's coach Alexei Mishin.
Plushenko landed a quad but went away from his planned programme to "The Best of Plushenko" made up of fragments of his performances over the years to music by violinist Edvin Morton.
He scored 168.20 for the free skate with Kevin Reynold achieving 167.92 and Japan's Tatsuki Machida 165.85.
But whether he will compete in the individual event is uncertain as he complained of a pain in his back after his performance.
"First I have to rest and talk to the doctors, perhaps implant some more stuff into my back," said Plushenko, who had surgery on his back last year.
The three-time world champion admitted that he had been more worried about his teammates, some of whom were inexperienced at the Olympics.
"They are all very strong skaters but some of them were skating for the first time (at the Winter Games) so I was a little bit nervous for them."
Despite her inexperience however, Lipnitskaia outshone her more experienced teammate who won his first world medal before she was born in 1998.
To the music of "Schindler's List" she skated sublimely to score a personal best 141.51 and to seal the title ahead of America's Gracie Gold and Italy's Valentina Marchei 112.51.
"I was a little bit nervous after Yevgeny got first because I didn't want to let the team down," said Lipnitskaia.
"He was very happy for me at the end and congratulated me in the kiss and cry. My main motivation today was not to let the team down."
World champions Davis and White later earned a standing ovation for their free skate to "Scherherazade" to set themselves up for gold later in the Games.
They achieved 114.34 with Olympic champions Virtue and Moir scoring 107.56 for their presentation to "Petit Adagio" and "Waltz in Concerto No. 2" with the Russians achieving 103.48 for "Swan Lake". - Rappler.com